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Long Island City Partnership unveils public artwork on Vernon Boulevard

The LIC Partnership held a ribbon-cutting event on June 27 at the Vernon Mall to unveil public artwork (Photo courtesy of LIC Partnership)

July 2, 2024, By Shane O’Brien

The Long Island City Partnership (LICP) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week to launch its “Lumina Arcana” public art project on Vernon Boulevard.

The artwork, designed by Long Island City-based artist Kenny Greenberg of Krypton Neon, features two large neon-light-clad pergolas situated on either side of Vernon Boulevard’s commercial corridor at
Vernon Mall and Gordon Triangle.

The artwork provides additional lighting at Vernon Mall, with colored lights to reflect the season. Last week, the lights were in rainbow colors in celebration of Pride month.

A number of elected officials and community leaders attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on
Thursday, June 27, including State Sen. Kristen Gonzalez, LIC Partnership President Laura Rothrock, and Elizabeth Masella, senior public art coordinator for NYC Parks.

Drag performer Malai, in celebration of Pride, also performed a rendition of Miley Cyrus’s hit song “Flowers” as part of the a ribbon-cutting ceremony and provided a drag story hour for around 15 local children.

The two pergolas are ten feet high and have been strategically placed at Vernon Mall and Gordon
Triangle in an effort to transform an under-lit area into a lively and inviting space.

The art project aims to improve visibility along Vernon Boulevard, particularly at night, in addition to
increasing foot traffic and supporting local businesses along the boulevard’s main commercial

The artwork’s neon lights can also be programmed to display different lights to reflect different
seasons and holidays throughout the year.

Elected officials and representatives of the LIC Partnership held a ribbon-cutting event June 27 at the Vernon Mall to unveil public artwork (Photo courtesy of LIC Partnership)

Rothrock said she hopes the project will encourage more people to visit Vernon Boulevard.

“We hope people use these installations as a guiding light to visit, stay and enjoy the many gems we
have here,” Rothrock said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “It’ll change through the seasons and
holidays, so it will allow us to bring joy throughout the year.”

Gonzalez, meanwhile, described the project as “the best of us,” adding that it showcases that Long
Island City is a “neighborhood for everyone.”

“I live right here in the neighborhood, and I can just say that this exhibit really is all of the best of us,”
Gonzalez said.

“Art has always been a bedrock here; we have a history of artists in the neighborhood who have
made Long Island City what it is. We also, of course, have our neighborhood of incredible small
businesses. It’s an art exhibit that celebrates pride, that celebrates our LGBTQIA neighbors.”

Malai said drag queens are rarely invited to ribbon-cutting ceremonies and praised organizers for
their inclusivity.

“I’m thrilled that I get to be a part of this — this is community making,” Malai said.

Masella said Lumina Arcana was the culmination of a community effort involving numerous city agencies.

“It was very cold [when we started working on this project, in the winter] and we’re here on a great
sunny day at the end of June,” Masella said. “It’s just great to be here and see this.”

The project received $100,000 from the New York City Department of Small Business Services (NYC
SBS) Commercial Lighting Grant, which aims to enhance lighting on commercial corridors.

Kevin Kim, the outgoing commissioner of NYC SBS, said the project simultaneously promotes economic visibility along Vernon Boulevard and enhances the area’s aesthetic appeal.

“This initiative is a shining example of how public art can invigorate communities and support local businesses,” Kim said.

NYC Parks, the New York City Department of Transportation and Con Edison also collaborated on the project, while Plaxall donated space for pergola fabrication.

Greenberg, who established his business in Long Island City in 1981, said the project creates a “moment of joy” for people who pass by it.

“Art is often provocative, but art can also just be enjoyable,” Greenberg said. “It can just be something that changes your momentary view of everything, whether you’re on your way to work or coming back to work, and just for a moment, you go, ‘What’s that? What’s going on?’ It takes you away from whatever is going on.”

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